Want China Times
By: Staff Reporter
China is likely to begin the militarization of its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea in
2017, Australian defense expert John Garnaut writes in an article for the Sydney Morning Herald on Aug. 31.
A senior official from the Australian government told Garnaut that China hsd won the first round of its battle for control in the South China Sea by completing the construction of an archipelago of artificial islands. The United States and its allies, including Australia, can do very little to stop China from winning the next round as well, the official said, and the deployment of US warships and aircraft to the region to challenge China’s “unlawful” claims has proved indecisive.
Military experts in Australia expect China to complete the construction of ports, barracks, battlements, artillery emplacements, airstrips and long-range radar systems on the reclaimed islands, the report said. With these new facilities, Beijing will be able to project its military and paramilitary power into the furthest and most hotly contested reaches of the South China Sea, where Vietnam and the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have competing territorial claims.
This is a huge strategic victory for China, Garnaut quoted an official as saying. The analyst said the developments pose a threat to the national security of Australia as the islands will give China the ability to obstruct other claimant and potentially disrupt sea lanes through which more than three-fifths of Australia’s marine trade passes.